Saturday, May 09, 2015

To life, to life, l'chaim, life has a way of confusing us, blessing and bruising us

Eighteen years ago today, I went on a blind date with a guy my chiropractor had set me up with.  We decided to go hiking up in north Georgia, and we took my dog Floyd.

I don't remember the guy's name or what he looked like, but I knew I would never see him again because of this exchange:

TOOL:  So, how was your week?  Anything exciting happen in your life?
ME:  Actually, it did.  I became an aunt for the first time.  My brother and his wife had a baby today.
TOOL:  Really?  That's great!  Is it a boy or a girl?
ME:  They had a little girl.  Her name is Emma.
TOOL:  Aw, that's too bad.
ME:  What?  What are you talking about?
TOOL:  Well, guys don't ever really want daughters.  Guys really want sons.
ME:  That's ridiculous.  They're thrilled to have a little girl.  The whole family is.

I had a good time on the hike because it was a beautiful day and Floyd was always good company, but I pretty much ignored my date for the rest of the day because I found him so insufferable.

Emma's arrival into the family was a day to be celebrated, and even though we only got her for 17 years, I'll never stop celebrating this day.

But the first one is so hard.  For the past few weeks, today's date has been looming.  We've all been strapped to the front of a hurtling cannonball, heading toward the side of a hard, rock-strewn mountain with no way to avoid the crash.

I've been crying, off and on, for what feels like forever.

I know that eventually, the grief won't be quite as raw.  It will never go away, but at a certain point, constantly feeling like your insides have been scooped out isn't sustainable.  There are children to raise, jobs to be done, experiences to be enjoyed.  Life has to be lived.  Emma knew that, and it would be a dishonor to her memory to let her death be an excuse for not living as fully as possible.

In Judaism, the number 18 has special significance, because the numerical values of the Hebrew letters that spell the word "chai" (pronounced with a hard gutteral "ch," not like the spiced tea) - life -  add up to the number 18.  Eighteen is the number of celebrating life.

I'm trying very hard to remember that today.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry, Wendy. Birthdays are terribly painful, and her life was cut so, so unfairly short. Big huge hugs and lots of love to you.